Mental health concerns have only increased since the onset of the pandemic and due to technology and social pressures kids face today. The following is important information for you and your loved ones to increase your own awareness during May which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Suicide – Let’s Talk About It
In Iowa and Nebraska the 2nd leading cause of death in kids is suicide.
- Fact: History of suicide in a family or knowing someone who committed suicide is the leading factor
- Myth: If you ask, it puts the thought in their head
- Myth: Self-harm means they are suicidal (BUT it can lead to death)
What to watch for…
- Extreme behaviors (sleep, isolation, substance use)
- Giving prized possessions away
- Talking about seeking revenge
- Looking for a way to kill themselves
- Talking about suicide and wanting to die
6-Steps You CanTake to Help Prevent A Suicide
- Watch Out – watch for warning signs
- Ask – “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
- Keep Them Safe
- Be There – listen
- Help them Connect – with a safe person
- Stay Connected
National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health and Your Kids
Symptoms of Depression vs. Normal Mood Swings in Teens:
It is true, many of the above signs and symptoms can be part of life with any teenager. Evaluating the following will help you know when to become concerned:
- Severity – Mood swings or behaviors seem explosive and over the top for the circumstance
- If there are problems in multiple areas of their life (home, school, friends)
- Duration – Deterioration of mood and/or behavior lasting longer than 2 weeks without any noticeable break
Impact of Social Media on Adolescents
- 40% of girls and 20% of boys spend more than 3 hours+/day (2021)
- 72% more – Cyberbulling is this much more strongly correlated with suicide attempts than face-to-face bulling. Why?
- They can’t get away from it
- Stays online forever
- Out of sight from adults
What Can Parents Do?
- Wait as long as possible before giving your child a phone/full access
- Talk about the risks involved
- Monitor! Be one of their ‘followers’ and occasionally asking to see what they are doing, viewing or posting
How to Have a Mental Health Conversation
It can be hard to know what to do when you learn of a family member, friend or coworker who has a mental illness. Here are some suggestions:
Do > > > > > >
- Remind them often of how much they mean to you
- Be patient with them
- Ask, “How can I help?”, but know your limits
- Learn about their illness to understand some of its symptoms, triggers and behaviors.
- Listen empathetically, let them share as much or as little as they feel comfortable
- Offer advice if they are seeking some
- Spend time with them, but allow space if they ask for it
- Take care of your own mental health so you can help when needed
- Talk about self-care
- Keep in touch, even if you get no response
- If you feel there is immediate danger, seek medical help. Call 911.
Don’t > > > > > >
- Interrupt or speak over them
- Tell them how they should or shouldn’t feel
- Jump in with solutions
- Belittle their feelings
- Pressure them to speak
- Tell them the illness or feeling they have is a choice
- Say, “you just need to…” – It’s not that simple.
- Diagnose them when you are not qualified
- Be critical or blaming
Self-Care Boosts Mental and Physical Health
Encourage your children and adult loved ones alike to support their mental health by devoting time to self-care. Practicing self-care on an ongoing basis is best, not just when you are feeling stressed.
- Enjoy time outdoors
- Stay hydrated
- Make a gratitude list
- Request or make a meal you enjoy
- Call or visit a friend
- Do something kind for someone else
Everyone has their own needs, likes and time considerations. Add your own helpful favorites to this list!
Mental Health Resources
If you have questions about your own mental health or that of someone you know, you can speak with one of our caring professional therapists.
More Mental Health information can be found on these reputable sites: